Reed Bye Retiring from the Jack Kerouac School


It is with deep sadness that I announce that our beloved Reed Bye is retiring from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and Naropa University. Reed has been at Naropa since 1975: teaching in the mid-80s and then serving as Core faculty since 1996, following his PhD from the University of Colorado, Boulder. An invaluable part of this community, Reed has helped to shape our programs and curriculum, served as chair of Writing and Poetics for 7 years, worked with countless students, and continued to bring his love of contemplative education into the classroom throughout his time at Naropa, having practiced Shambhala Buddhist meditation for many years. To write of all Reed’s contributions and accomplishments would be difficult, but his most recent publications are Catching On (Monkey Puzzle Press), a cd of original songs Broke Even (Fast Speaking Music), and Join the Planets: New and Selected Poems (United Artists Books). Currently, he is working on a prosodic study of the poetry of Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams.

Anne Waldman writes: “I met Reed at a reading in Boulder thru Jack Collom. His reading was beautiful, he was wearing shorts. He was a poet, a roofer, and tree pruner & trimmer. He was strong, gentle, intelligent. He had been in the merchant marines, seen India, and other parts. He was a reader of poetry, and as it turned out, an evolving Buddhist. Our first date was a Chogyam Trungpa talk. In one poem, it says dharma was my dowry to him. He was part of the community early on. He had a profound way of delving into texts: I think of his dedication to Blake, something I know Allen wanted to see studied here. Allen admired his calm tremendously. I saw Reed as a lineage holder of what I imagine was something practiced at the original Nalanda University…gentle & experiential & scholarly wisdom that comes from genuine heart connection to the work. His particular method of teaching—his wisdom and patience—will be profoundly missed. So many former students I encounter speak of Reed’s dedication and commitment and how he has helped so many in their lives—not just as students of writing and literature. His own poetry has a wonderful care & magic.”

Reed takes every opportunity to be involved in the JKS community; you’ll always see him at our events and student readings, enthusiastic about the positive movement happening in JKS. His love of and dedication to JKS are apparent in the care he has put into all that he has accomplished at Naropa. To say that he will be missed is an understatement. He is a valued community member, generous colleague, dedicated teacher and mentor, and dear dear friend. While we hope that he will return to teach from time to time, please join me in celebrating his lustrous career at Naropa and wish him well as he moves toward his next journey.

Thank you for all your considered and heart-felt work, Reed. We love you deeply.

I leave you with a poem from Reed’s Catching On:

Nobody knows—

That’s all it amounts to

A plain case with small wounds

—the air burns

A vestige of vanity


Grows in rings—the year

Somehow narrows—snow and rain

Drop and flake

Only you know the degree of devotion